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Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: Views by the Echo Press

NOVEMBER 22, 1963

This is more of an observation than a thumbs item. Exactly 50 years ago today, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. As reported in stories on today’s front page, the community and the nation reacted with stunned disbelief, prayers and respectful silence. On November 22, 1963, the world seemed to stop, as if a giant “pause” button had been pushed. Americans everywhere put their lives on hold. Stores and schools closed. Churches of all denominations held special services. The nation watched, as one, as their president was laid to rest. As terrible as the loss was, Americans came through it together, finding strength and unity through their collective grieving. One can only speculate what would happen if, God forbid, such a tragic chain of events took place in today’s technology-driven, media-frenzy age of instantaneous information sharing and non-stop political analyzing. Instead of hitting “pause,” would there be a tendency to “fast forward” through the shock and grieving process? To leap to conclusions, to politicize and criticize, to distrust and finger-point, or worse yet, not care? Would the country pull together or pull apart? Let’s hope those are questions that will never, ever have to be answered.


Thumbs Up: Margaret Vaillancourt, a community activist who had a knack for getting things done, passed away last month. The name should ring a bell with long-time local residents. Margaret Victoria Noonan was born in Alexandria in 1946 and her father operated the North American Creamery here. Viallancourt’s obituary in the Star Tribune noted that she furthered a number of causes in Minnesota, including the Hepatitis B Coalition, the welfare rights group Minnesota Recipients Alliance, the local Children’s Defense Fund and the Self Reliance Center. She was also instrumental in helping pass Minnesota’s Children’s Health Plan in 1986, according to Luanne Nyberg, former head of the local Children’s Defense Fund. Vaillancourt wrote powerful biographical sketches of uninsured children in Minnesota who had experienced preventable health problems, her obituary noted. The group stuffed the stories into the mailboxes of every lawmaker and reporter at the State Capitol for 20 days in a row. Vaillancourt died October 15 at age 67 after battling uterine cancer. She donated her body to the University of Minnesota’s anatomy bequest program.


Thumbs Up: Several Alexandria coaches earned a well-deserved turn in the spotlight for their successful seasons. Steve Haug was named Section 8AA Girls Tennis Assistant Coach of the Year; Mark Nelsen was named Section 8AA Boys Cross Country Head Coach of the Year; Jerry Amundson was named Section 8AA Cross Country Assistant Coach of the Year; and Becky Schlichting was named Section 8AAA Volleyball Head Coach of the Year.


Thumbs Up: We published stories but the word is still getting out there that there is a place to safely dispose of your unused or expired medications. The Alexandria Police Department has a receptacle for depositing the medications. No ID is required and the service is free. Medications from households are accepted, including controlled substances and prescription drugs, over-the-counter meds, vitamins and supplements and pet meds. These are to be brought in the original package or a container. Not accepted are meds from businesses including health care facilities, pharmacies, doctors’ clinics, pharmaceutical representatives and vet clinics. No needles, sharps or syringes are accepted. “So often, in the past, these meds were flushed down the toilet and ended up contaminating our waters,” noted a grateful resident. “Not having a safe place to dispose of them is a danger to our children. We are so fortunate to have this service available to us. Yea for the police department!”


Thumbs Down: Here’s a scam to beware of: According to the Todd County Sheriff’s Office, a woman in Grey Eagle received a letter this week, stating that she was the winner of a large sum of money. All she had to do was mail in some money to pay for the taxes before her prize could be sent to her. The woman, unfortunately, fell for the scam. She lost about $2,000. The sheriff’s office reminds everyone that they should contact authorities if they receive any suspicious phone calls or letters that could possibly be a scam.


Thumbs Up: Mary Anderson, president of the Blue Star Mothers, Chaper 2, gives a big “thumbs up” to several groups for supporting troops deployed overseas. This includes the Village Cooperative, the Eagles Club, VFW and students at New Testament Church who made cards to send to the soldiers. “They gave money, candy and supplies,” noted Anderson. “It’s great to have this local support.”